Why Can We Hear Dolphin Clicks So Clearly?

Courtesy of Adam Walker, Cook Strait, New Zealand.

We wonder sometimes.

Why is it that we can hear sounds from whales and dolphin clicks so clearly underwater? Why can’t the people on the escort boats or kayaks right near us cannot hear these sounds at all?

It turns out that sound waves travels better through a denser medium like water versus air. When the sound is made, vibrations are dispersed through the water. When the whale sounds or dolphin clicks hits our eardrums, this is interpreted by sound.

Similarly, if we put our ears to a railroad track, we can hear a train many kilometers away. But if our ear is only a few centimeters above the railroad track, we hear nothing.

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Steven Munatones